New Coutts 44

Cup veteran turned yacht designer unveils new hi-tech race boat

Wednesday October 5th 2005, Author: Bernard Schopfer, Location: Italy
Russell Coutts has translated his long-standing passion for yacht design into a new light-displacement 44ft boat, the Russell Coutts 44, which will be officially launched on October 8 at the Genoa International Boat Show.

"I'm tremendously excited by this project, and really pleased at the way the new boat is looking and working," Coutts says about the 44, which will also be on display at the Barcolana regatta over the same weekend at Trieste.

An engineering graduate of the University of Auckland, Coutts has been working on the new boat since ending his America's Cup involvement. He co-designed it with Andrej Justin, who has designed several racing boats, including a 33ft match race boat, the JustinTen and the 80ft carbon fibre, canting keel MaxiJena. They undertook first testing on Garda Lake in August with members of the Danish crew Coutts has been racing with during the 2005 season, and Coutts says the whole team was highly pleased at the new boat's speed and performance.

While the new boats have some distinctive America's Cup features, says Coutts, they are light-displacement, high performance racers and designed to sail with seven person crew, or for a professional match racing format they could be sailed by just five crew. "Along with competing, design has always been a huge passion for me, and is an increasingly big part of the pleasure I get out of sailing.

"When we started to formulate this concept I wanted to create a boat that would be exciting to sail downwind and powerful in light winds because most of the harbour and lake sailing is staged at lighter wind venues. I also wanted a boat that could be sailed short-handed with a deck layout incorporating many non-standard adjustments that help improve speed.

"The trim tab on the keel was an example of that thinking, to reduce keel area and yet still achieve good upwind performance and maneuverability. It adds to the complexity of the boat, but the racing enthusiast will enjoy exploring the different tab angles and the resulting benefits in performance.

"The testing we have done so far has confirmed that we've exceeded expectations. The boat is huge fun to sail and we had it sailing downwind at 18.5 knots on Lake Garda in about 22 knots of breeze. "

With a powerful sail plan, the new boat is intended strictly for racing, either match racing or day sailing fleet races. Four boats have been produced in carbon fibre using the infusion method of construction in very precise NC cut female moulds. It features a carbon mast with PBO rigging and a carbon boom and retractable gennaker strut.

"We have put a lot of effort into reducing weight and windage in the mast and rigging," Coutts says. "In conjunction with one of the companies on the project, we are now developing and testing a solid carbon head stay which incorporates a single head foil."

The engine also features a hydraulically controlled retractable prop.

The boat is targeted at the day sailor who wishes to sail a high performance one-design class. It has no comforts for cruising, and with a big open cockpit, a fairly narrow beam and the huge sail plan it produces a lot of excitement, Coutts says. "The philosophy was to create something special for the racing sailor - a bit like owning a sports car versus a 4-wheel drive!"

The boat features a removable stern scoop with a two-piece mast, both developed to provide for easy transportation, assembly and winter storage. Many features on the boat, such as the weed cutter and retractable prop, will be on display at Genoa and Trieste.

Production has drawn on many different suppliers in different countries providing a wide range of expertise. The World Carbon Company based in Slovenia produced the first four boats under a licence for Europe, Russia, Africa and the United States.

The class rules and the construction of the boat are being tightly controlled to protect the one-design concept and reduce development costs for participants. For fleet racing it will be an owner driver class with strict limitations on the number of professional crew.

Dimensions:

LOA: 13.35m 43.8ft
Bmax: 2.75m 9ft
Draft: 2.90m 9.5ft
Disp: 3560kg 7850lbs
Keel: 2010kg 4430lbs
Crew: 450kg 992lbs
Engine: 20HP inboard diesel with retractable drive

Sail dimensions:

I: 16.60m 54.5ft
J: 5.20m 17.1ft
P: 17.25m 56.6ft
E: 5.28m 17.3ft
SPL: 7.35m 24.1ft

Main: 70m² 753sqft
Gennaker: 170m² 1722sqft
Gennaker: 130m² 1399sqft
G -1: 60m² 646sqft
G -3 48m² 517sqft


Concept:

This is a light-displacement racing yacht designed to be fast downwind and powerful upwind. It has a high aspect ratio keel with a trim tab and rudder. The carbon construction provides a stiff but light structure with a low centre of gravity. The sail area is very generous and the open cockpit allows the boat to be raced with only seven crew.

Easy transport concept: The specially-designed canting trailer, easy detachable stern scoop and simple keel to hull attachment with a conical joint/coupling makes the boat very easy to transport and store. The mast is also built in two structural parts making the boat easy to transport on the road with no oversize restrictions.

Structural design: The hull, deck, structural liner, keel, rudder and rig were calculated and structurally optimised using Nastran software for the FEM analysis.

Construction: Hull, deck and stern scoop are built in sandwich construction of epoxy resin and exclusively carbon unidirectional and biaxial fabrics, while the twill carbon woven rowing is used to give a smooth, clear, carbon look finish on all external surfaces. The core material is 10, 20 and 25mm Airex with a density of 75-100 kg/m³.

The internal structure is a double cross frame designed to take all the keel, mast and shroud loads minimizing the hull and deck stress and deformation. It is built of epoxy resin and exclusively carbon unidirectional and biaxial fabrics, while the twill carbon woven rowing is again used to provide a smooth finish on all visible surfaces.

Female moulds for the hull, deck liner and spoiler are built to extremely high standards from CNC machined plugs, to guarantee minimal building tolerances. All composite parts are built according to SPSystem specification, vacuum bagged and postcured in an oven.

Keel & bulb: The keel is built of carbon pre-preg material in carbon moulds postcured at high temperature and pressure in an autoclave. A weed cutter is fitted in the keel leading edge. The trim tab is built in carbon with RTM technology. The lead-antimony bulb is cast in CNC machined steel mould for high precision and faired with epoxy compound.

Rudder & steering system: The rudder and tapered rectangular section rudder shaft are one piece carbon built with RTM technology in a high precision female mould. The rudder shaft structure is FEM optimised and dimensioned according to ABS loads for speed of over 26 knots. The steering quadrant, steering pedestals and wheels are exclusively designed and built in carbon. The oversized Jefa self-aligning bearings, chain transmission steerers, steering sheaves and reliable vectran cable guarantee extremely precise performance with low maintenance. The result is a well balanced boat that handles with two fingers even when sailing at surfing speeds.

General: Flushdeck, large racing cockpit with twin steering wheels, pedestal driven primary and mainsheet winches, recessed jib tracks and winches, ergonomic sidedecks and steering position, retractable and pivoting bowsprit, customized top quality deck hardware. Non skid treated walk upon areas.

Toe rail: A custom carbon toe rail is fitted from bow to mast.

Winches (Harken): Halyard: 2x B40.2STA, primary: 2x B530.3TCR pedestal driven, main: 1x B55.3STR pedestal driven

Deck hardware (Harken): Jib system: midrange (4:1 car purchase), Main system: bigboat (2:1 mainsheet, 4:1 car purchase)

The deck hardware is oversized to provide low maintenance. All the control lines, main sheet, backstays and gennaker retriever system are fitted under the deck to keep the deck as clean as possible.

The hardware layout was optimised in extensive sailing trials with Russell Coutts' match race crew.

Hatches: The foredeck hatch is AC style-shaped, the carbon cover has fast release fittings, the edges are rounded for easy gennaker-retriever operation. The cockpit engine drive inspection hatch is fitted with a carbon cover with fast release fittings.

Mast & Rigging: The mast shape has a variable section, designed specially for this boat, to improve the mast-sail aerodynamic interaction. The mast is produced in two segments for transport reasons, the joint is at the second spreader position and is secured with titanium bolts and titanium backing plates. Rig is fractional with three backswept spreaders. Standing rigging is continuous in PBO with turnbuckles below the deck, to save weight to reduce windage and provide a clean visual appearance. The boom and pivoting retractable bowsprit are also made of carbon. The running backstays are non structural. The PBO forestay has a hydraulic ram tensioner and is fitted with headfoil as standard. Running rigging is in Spectra.

Engine: Volvo 20HP diesel engine is fitted with specially developed retractable drive. The compact hydraulic transmission is moved up and down with two electro-hydraulic rams with remote controls at the steering position.

Plumbing: A cockpit operated hand bilge pump and an automatic electric bilge pump are fitted as standard.

Electronics: A complete set of B&G Hercules2000 sailing instruments with mast unit, GPS, electronic compass, speed and depth tranducers, trim tab and rudder angle transducers, one multi-display on the coffee grinder pedestal (for rudder and trim tab angles) and up to five 20/20 maxi displays fitted in a carbon rack on mast.

More photos on the following pages...

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